ESS Announces Employee of the Year Winner

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Clayton Receives Employee of the Year Honor at ESS


Congratulating the winners are (standing, L to R): Dr. Kenneth O’Neal, Assistant Director of Ellisville State School; Peggy and Bill Langnecker, ESS Family and Friends Association; Renée Brett, Director of Ellisville State School; Connie Smith, Treasurer, ESS Family and Friends Association; Rinsey McSwain, Assistant Director of Ellisville State School; Dr. Chuck Benigno, Superintendent of the Laurel School District; and Robert Landrum, member of the Mississippi Board of Mental Health. Win­ners are (standing with plaques L to R): Marequas Shaw and Andre Clayton; (seated L to R): Jessica Hunter, Keisha Bounds and Barbara Barnes.


Clayton Receives Employee of the Year Honor at ESS


Applause rung out in the J.C. Williamson Food Service Facility at Ellisville State School (ESS) recently when Andre Clayton of Bay Springs was announced as the “2013 Direct Support Employee of the Year.”  Clayton, who joined the ESS staff in 2006, beat out four other candidates for the top honor.

A special awards committee selected five direct support employees to receive Employee of the Year honors from their various programs or units. These employees were from a group of more than 60 who had been chosen as Employee of the Month winners in 2013. The committee, consisting of ESS administrators and directors, then selected an overall winner from the group.

In introducing Clayton as the overall winner, ESS Director Renée Brett said he always had a good work ethic and an excellent attendance record.  “This employee serves as a good example and mentor for new employees,” said Brett.  “He is cooperative and demonstrates a willingness to work over when needed and always displays a professional attitude.”

Brett went on to say Clayton makes a point to ensure that individuals in his care are happy and comfortable and that they receive quality care.  She said Clayton is an asset to ESS.

In addition to Clayton, the remaining top five employees chosen were Keisha Bounds of Laurel; Marequas Shaw, Mize; Barbara Barnes, Taylorsville; and Jessica Hunter, Laurel.

Dr. Chuck Benigno, superintendent of the Laurel School District, commended Clayton and all the direct support employees for their work. Serving as guest speaker at an awards banquet for the honorees, Benigno thanked the employees for taking care of the individuals served by ESS.

“You give our loved ones great care and attention,” he said.

Benigno, who became a little emotional as he spoke, shared that his wife’s uncle lives in one of the ESS community homes. He added that his uncle loves it and pointed out that it is because of the love and care shown by the employees.

“I am excited for you,” said Benigno. “I appreciate all you do. We all appreciate you.”

The honorees also received congratulatory wishes from Ellisville Mayor Tim Waldrup; Robert Landrum, a member of the Mississippi Board of Mental Health; and Connie Smith, treasurer of the ESS Family and Friends Association.

“I want you to know you do something I could not do,” Waldrup told the direct support staff. “I am not cut out to care for people the way you do.

“Whatever you are paid, it’s not enough,” added the mayor. “You are remarkable, loving and caring people and we appreciate you. Thanks for all you do.”

Smith added that she knows working in direct care is not an easy job. She said she believes the work the employees do is a ministry.

“There’s not enough words to tell you what you mean to us because you are the ones who take care of our family members,” added Smith. “You are with them, caring for them when we cannot be here.”

Brett said the Employee of the Year banquet is a special event held each year to honor the achievements of the direct support staff. This year more than 60 direct support professionals were honored.

“The dedication they show to the individuals we serve is above and beyond their job expectations,” said Brett. “I congratulate all of our direct support staff for their amazing accomplishments during the past year.”

Banquet sponsors included the ESS Family and Friends Association, the ESS Credit Union, the ESS Employee Appreciation Fund, Community Bank of Laurel, Elkins Wholesale and International Fire and Safety.

Article Date:   4/30/2014   |   Expiration Date:   10/30/2014

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